A Revival of Retrocomputing is Inspiring the Next Generation of C4DI

Chair of C4DI David Keel reveals why the tech from our past should not be sniffed at.

It all started when 15-year-old Javid Mann - Hull's Junior Digital Champion in 2018 - visited the C4DI building and got chatting with David.

Javid Mann, Hull’s Junior Digital Champion 2018. Image Credit :  Ron Dearing UTC .

Javid Mann, Hull’s Junior Digital Champion 2018. Image Credit : Ron Dearing UTC.

The teenager's passion for old computers and old versions of software became evident as he explained how he had become interested in his dad's old computer, which had Windows 98, from a young age.

"At first, we didn't understand why people of Javid's age would be playing on these "vintage" machines. But, it makes absolute sense when you think about it," David tells us.

"With modern technology (iPhones, PlayStations etc.), you can't play around and tinker. You can write a game on an old computer - it's accessible and allows you to be very creative in a short space of time."

David explains how a lot of learning opportunities have been lost as technology has developed.

By messing around with old software, Javid has become a whizz with some of the latest emerging technologies. He now attends Ron Dearing UTC, which focuses on specialisms of Digital Technology and Mechatronics.

"Funnily enough, one piece of software that caught Javid's I was something I worked on back in 1985," David enthuses.

AMX Paintpot, a BBC Micro program, was the first commercial computer program that David worked on. It allowed users to mix the 16 colours that - at the time - were the only shades available on a computer.

"The painting programme enabled me to purchase a Golf GTI Convertible - a very expensive and desirable car at the time," he chuckles.

After creating this program, he went on to build Sonoco Trident, who is now a global supplier of graphics and pre-made services for packaging and brand assets.

"This is why it's crucial that we inspire kids like Javid to follow their passions. We want young people to realise there's another option out there for them - to be your own boss and even be an employer," David adds.

"Hull needs to encourage young talent to stay in the area and work and create work for others - it's important for the whole economy."

For more information about opportunities at C4DI, please contact our Community Manager Louise Cooke on lc@c4di.net.